Every day, I receive many e-mails asking the same question – “Is it safe to go to Cotabato City?” Well, in my opinion many parts of Cotabato may indeed be unsafe for foreign tourists. Cotabato City should not be considered safe unless you are a seasoned traveler. Don’t take me wrong, Cotabato is not like the wild west where guns are slinging in every direction you look. Instead, you should keep on your mind that there may be kidnappers, or terrorists. Many of these kind of people may treat you in a very friendly way in order to gain your confidence before making you prey to their crimes. Will this sort of thing happen anytime you visit Cotabato? No, of course not. But, things like this happen often enough that you should just be aware, and be cautious.
I have visited Cotabato City myself, and I felt safe there. However, I tend to travel to a lot of areas that I would not recommend to people who are not familiar with the area, or are not well seasoned in their travel. The chances are that you would be safe if you visit Cotabato City, but there is enough of a chance of trouble, that I cannot recommend it, but instead urge you to use caution.
The first thing people ask is “what about the Muslims?” Yes, there is a substantial population of Muslims in the Cotabato area, but the vast majority are very peaceful. They are peaceful people just like you are. I have plenty of Muslim friends, and really you can’t tell a difference between them and anybody else. And, remember, there are plenty of bad people in any religion or ethnic group. My advice is to loosen up and enjoy the array of differences that make all of us interesting!
So, the answer to this frequently asked question is that Cotabato City is not recommended for the novice traveler. If you are a seasoned traveler who has been to places off the beaten path, you will likely find no problems in Cotabato. The most important thing is to use common sense, be aware of what is happening around you and be vigilant.